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Counties dig into septic, sewer restrictions on new developments

A number of counties in the state are currently reviewing some proposed new legislation concerning septic systems. Those who have proposed this new law for Maryland believe that it could spur more development of current water and sewer facilities and discourage creating more septics in local areas.

The burden of implementation falls on counties, where lawmakers and zoning boards must determine which category a parcel of land falls into. All land in the state will fall into one of four tiers, but a county need not have land in each of the four tiers.

The first and fourth tiers would bar any major subdivisions from being constructed where there are existing septic systems, with limited exceptions that could remove the restriction in areas of some counties based on housing density. Some say that Wicomico County is unlikely to qualify for such an exemption, although they believe that Worcester County would.

The second and third tiers would require public hearings and the approval of a planning commission, but after those conditions are met would permit major subdivisions to be constructed on top of existing septic systems.

What the counties come up with will be subject to review by the Maryland Department of the Environment. It is hoped that the process will help to improve the quality of the water in the Chesapeake Bay, now greatly muddied by pollution. Some believe, however, that the new restrictions could prove detrimental to owners of individual parcels of property.

The proposal is certain to receive a lot more scrutiny, discussion, and refinement before it is acted on, in light of its importance to the future of productive land use in the state.

Source: The Dispatch, "Wicomico Mulls State's Tier Plan," Travis Brown, Nov. 9, 2012

Our firm helps clients find their ways through land use and zoning laws like the ones discussed above. You can learn more about our practice at the Annapolis, Maryland land use and zoning page of our website.

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